The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 2 September 2005

Kalbarri Trip - 26-29 August 2005

Our wedding anniversary falls on 28th August and it was a good excuse to take a couple of days off work on a short trip up north to Kalbarri last weekend for our first anniversary. While the rest of the Perthites were suffering in the cold rainy weather, we had great sunny weather. It only rained on the Monday as we headed back home to Perth. This is a long post with lots of pictures (ah the beauty of an online-journal - no paper wastage!).


Fell sick with a sorethroat. Was damn sudden too, and I was spewing that I had to get sick the day before my holiday! By midday I clearly wasn't getting better so I took the rest of the day off from work to recover (heh, one of my collegues thought I wanted my holiday to begin sooner). I wish it was just sorethroat, but I felt foggy-brained and lethargic too. Sigh. Went home and had about 2 hours sleep. Got up, did some grocery shopping, went to my friend's house to borrow her Game Cube and her Pikmin and Legend of Zelda games and a few animes - just making sure we had stuff to do in the evenings whilst in Kalbarri. Got home, did some packing during the ads of an episode of Alias. Didn't go to bed until about 23:30. Geez, I was glad I had that 2 hour nap. Set the alarm for an ungodly time of 05:30am.

Friday Morning:

I woke up at 05:10 and couldn't go back to sleep. I also felt worse than yesterday but dragged myself out of bed, had something to eat before doing last minute packing of food and toiletries. We were armed with lots of snackies for the long ride north. We wanted to reach Kalbarri by 13:00 because we had a booking for horseriding at 14:15. Kalbarri is about 600km north of Perth, so assuming our average driving speed was 100km/hr (limit on the country road is 110km/hr), it would take at least 6 hours to get there. We packed everything into the car and started out at 06:30.

The Drive to Kalbarri:

The drive was somewhat pleasant. I was planning to nap while Rob was driving, but I was also eager to know the basic operations of the camera - at least the auto functions - so that I could take photos at our first activity later that day. So I played with the camera, taking lots of pictures of the road, Rob, and the landscape. Nothing too exciting really..

I took over the driving after two hours, and although it wasn't my first time driving on a country road, boy, did I have fun! I think my speed averaged about 135km/hr when I wasn't stuck behind some vehicle. Rob needs to relax a bit more with my 'country' driving. He seriously has an anxiety attack almost everytime I make an overtaking manouevre. Okay, I admit, sometimes I take risks, but then Rob even sometimes has an anxiety attack when he himself makes an overtaking manouevre..

We stopped for fuel and toilet break after driving for another 1.5hours, and we swapped seats again then. We reached the reception of our villa accommodation at 12:30 - total of 6 hours driving! Poor Robbie was so sick of driving by then. We had time to have the fried rice I packed for lunch and to unpack and relax before heading out again for horseriding.


Horseriding was mostly fun. There were two other couples in our tour group. The girls at the ranch were foreigners from Germany and Switzerland - obviously doing a 'farm stay' of some sort as part of their holiday.

Now, this was my first time riding a living animal. So I was somewhat apprehensive and nervous. Alf is the name of the horse assigned to me. Mostly obedient, but like all smart animals, this horse had his own mind. If he wanted food while we stopped for a rest, he'd happily wander over to a grassy patch to munch, despite my commands to stay.

Trotting was difficult. The girls got us to practise while we were on the ground - "down-up-down-up-down" while bending our knees and doing half squats (amusing to watch). I can tell you that little exercise didn't really help me at all while I was on the horse itself. When we started trotting, I was bumping on the horse like a ball. It was tough. One of the girls had decided to rope Alf to her horse in case I couldn't control Alf (geez, it was that obvious from the start? I was the only one who was roped to one of the instructors). During the first couple trots, she kept saying, "down up down up down up" whilst demonstrating and I kept saying, "I can't do that because my foot is stuck in the foothold thingie!" in between my "I'm gonna fall off!!" and all the while fearing that I would fall off anytime. Anyway, eventually I got it right. It was more like "down-down-up-down-down-up" which explained why I was bopping like mad on my first try. Heh, it didn't help that my safety strap was broken too - took the girls awhile to fix it, but even then it wasn't as secure as they'd like it..

Cantering (running) was fun and easier than trotting. The others had 3 goes, I missed out on the first two canters because I was too chicken. After I found out that it was actually easier than trotting, I wanted to try it out, but the girls were concerned about my broken safety strap so they said it was probably better to wait until the break when they can have a go at fixing it. Rob's horse was psycho! Apparently the horse kept trying to zoom past the instructors down the front during the canters.. On the way back, on the last canter, my horse did a scary stunt when another horse bumped into it, and Alf went up the side bank of the road (which would have been about 1m higher than the road). Eeep! I thought I was gonna fall off!!! Of course, I witnessed Rob's horse zooming past all the horses while it was still munching on the grass it still had in its mouth! So eager to get up front - must've been an ex-racehorse.

Crossing the river was kinda scary. The water got up to the horse's shoulders, and we had to position our legs in an awkward *unstable* position (to keep them dry). I was seriously hanging on to the reins and what was left of the 'safety' strap and hoping and praying that I would not fall off..

Anyway, got some purty piccies while the horses happily grazed along. Hehe. Rob's horse farted. Man, can the horses piss and poo!! So much and so often!

Later on Friday evening:

We finished our horseriding and got back to our villa after 17:30. By then, I was exhausted and my sorethroat made me more tired than I would normally be. I had a little bit of bruises on the inside of my thighs where it rubbed the saddle, but other than that, it was all good. My brother Ian had warned of having a sore bum, but I think our frequent bike riding had already toughened our bums quite a lot.. We went for a walk before dinner in search for an ATM for cash, but we didn't go far before turning back to our villas simply because I was too tired and grumpy to do much else. Took some gorgeous sunset pictures with my camera though, so that was worth the walk.

I took a nice hot shower while Robbie prepared dinner (so sweet of him!). We went to bed early around 21:00 because we had another early start the next day, and we did only have about 4-5 hours of sleep the night before.

Saturday Morning: Abseiling Tour

Set the alarm for 06:10 because we were being picked up for abseiling from the resort's reception (which was 10mins walk) between 07:00 and 07:15. Woke up at around 05:00, and couldn't go back to sleep. Damn insomnia. I didn't manage to catch up on lost sleep after all.

Our guide's name is Nick, and he is such a good guide - very easygoing friendly personality. There was only one other couple in our group, and they were probably in their late forties, early fifties - very adventurous for their age and very likeable.

As part of the abseiling activity, we were given a tour through the touristy part of Kalbarri National Park - went to Nature's Window and to the Loop. Then it was time for abseiling in the gorges! That was fun - we got three shots at normal abseiling, and two shots at 'forward' abseiling. Nick said that the abseiling part of the tour would be the safest part - the most dangerous part would be the walking because you have to be careful with your steps on rocky surfaces. There were a lot of climbing up and down rocks when we reached the gorge areas. The abseiling was super good! Of course, it was kinda tiring, coz after abseiling down the face each time, you had to climb the rocks and hike back up to abseil back down. Surprisingly I managed to do the hike AND the climbing AND the abseiling eventhough I was still sick. I was damn knackered by the end of the day though.

Rob performing an abseil stunt - upside down!

Forward abseil:

Shots taken during our lunch break after our abseiling activity (we were still wearing our abseiling harnesses during our hike back to the coach):

View of part of the Z-bend (shot taken after a huge climb):

Saturday evening

We got back to our villa around 14:30, all knackered, but we still had to go in search for an ATM, and had to book our next day's activity at the Tourist Centre, which we hoped to be sandboarding, depending on the weather (a cold front was forecasted to affect Perth on Sunday, and I didn't know whether it would affect Kalbarri much). So off we went to do all that, came back to the villa, and had a nice hot shower in preparation for dinner at Finlays. Then it was back to the villa for bumming - we were too knackered to do anything else but sit and play Pikmin.

Sunday Morning

Ah, the weather was great! The cold front affecting Perth was only due to affect Kalbarri late Sunday arvo, so the day was ours to enjoy as we sandboard the huge dunes! We got picked up in a huge 4WD (a 14-seater I think) at 07:45am, and two other groups of three were part of our tour group as well: 3 Malaysians and 3 Israeli girls. Part of the tour was 4-wheel-driving thru the dunes. We went down a pretty steep dune, and I have photos to show:

View through through the front window: looks like we're approaching a hill, doesn't it?

View through the side window: Level horizontal ground to the left of the shot:

Slope: Admiring in awe...

Ah, the sandboarding itself. That was sooooo fun!!! It was so tiring, because after each ride, you had to trek back up the dune to do it again. You can do as many times as your body allows you to do. The first dune we tackled was small in comparison to the next one, but it still was very fun (especially when you haven't done it before). There are four ways to sandboard: lying on your tummy facing forward and backwards, sitting facing forward and backwards (no control/braking for the backwards sit). We also learnt how to sandboard standing up. We took lots of sequence shots, but I will only show some shots here.

This one is of Rob and me sandboarding at the same time on the first "baby" dune:

This was the biggy dune. It was so huge that we were only allowed to sandboard it one way and that was on our tummy facing forward. The trek back up the dune was so damn exhausting! Still, it was sooo much fun that we both did it seven times! One of the guys gave up after about 3 goes.

I held the record for going the furthest (even Ian, the owner of the business, was surprised I went that far), until Rob swapped his board for mine, and only then he took the record just by a bit on my board. That's me way down there - that black 'dot' in the middle..

We had about 1hr's lunch break at Lucky Bay Lagoon. It was absolutely gorgeous. I took several shots that I can stitch together to make a panoramic photo, but I haven't yet figured out how to use the camera's software to do that. Here's one shot:

Here we had the chance to have lunch and go snorkelling if we so desired. Ian, our guide, informed us that there are nice fishies at the rocky reef edge of the lagoon.. It looks deceivingly warm and summery doesn't it? The air temperature would have been a nice 23degC (perfect for sandboarding under the sun as it wasn't too cool nor too hot). The water was freezing - which was expected in the midst of winter!! Went in about waist-deep (took us probably a good 10 minutes just walking in gradually), then I said that it was too cold, especially when I was still sick.. So out I went and took some piccies of Rob snorkelling. Then after lunch it was more sandboarding, but by then I was tired and could only do a few more before I called it a day. We got to our villa probably around 15:00, rested, showered then made our way to the fish and chips place for our dinner.

Monday morning:

We packed our stuff and started from Kalbarri to Perth at 08:30. Did I say I like driving? Arrived in Perth at 14:30. Ah, that was a fun trip. Eventhough I was sick, I still managed to enjoy myself :)

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