New Years Eve! To bring in 2016, we decided to spend a few days in Perth City. Our partying began with a visit to the Mint Museum. We watched how gold bullion gets made, which was pretty wild. The best fact we learnt was regarding the serrated edge of a coin, serrated because it makes it extremely difficult to shave off the gold. Our new best mate, Eleanor, daughter of the lovely, welcoming Linda and Kieran, came to our hostel room to get smashed on a bottle of rum before meeting up with her mates at a gay club. Among the boogying, I managed to make out with Ednora on the strike of twelve, which was a welcome bonus. We were drunkenly hobbling home along the busy Northbridge Road and in the space of 30 yards, witnessed three fights in full swing. The first, two girls yanking each other’s hair, only to be stopped by police horses, then onto a testosterone-fuelled street brawl between a bunch of lads, and thirdly, and probably most oddly, a woman fending off a group of ‘attackers’ with a metal pole, all completely smashed. It was nice as it reminded me of home. A standard night out in Southend.

The Mint Museum

The Mint Museum

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Busting shapes with Eleanor

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The rum kicked in

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The morning after the night before

The morning after the night before

Over the next couple of days we hired some more bikes and rode around a kangaroo reserve where we were able to stroke them! We also visited the Western Australia museum. Outside this vast building was a water fountain which ejaculated H2O hotter than the inner core of the Earth. It wasn’t part of the museum, but blew my mind nonetheless. The water actually got hotter the longer you pressed the button – inexplicable. In Kings Park there was a reflection area where you could relax and, I guess, reflect. Ednora took time to relax and calm everything around her, noting her achievements, targets, prospects. I fell asleep.

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After a few days back at Kelly’s we decided to spread our wings and hire a car for a week. It was going to be tough watching Ednora do all the driving, but I was ready to accept this difficult task. Our plan was to head south as far as Margaret River, around four hours direct, but stop off at every town along the way. The south is famous for its scenery, beaches, and wineries, and it didn’t disappoint. We hired a kayak in Mandurah, and as we plodded along, a dolphin sprung up from underwater to greet us! It came so close to the kayak we got sprayed from the dolphin’s blowhole. That night we cooked a homemade dinner on the grill in the back of the van, our first homemade meal since mid-November.

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Just before we saw the dolphin

Just before we saw the dolphin

The next day we woke up to an eerie sky. A gigantic plume of smoke populated the heavens and cast a morbid shadow. We were to find out later that there had been one of the biggest WA forest fires in around 50 years. It was a stunning sight, but the ash raining on us all day could only make us feel sorry for the people and wildlife who had lost their homes, but grateful that we had missed the fires by a day. Kelly didn’t call to see whether we had been burnt to ash. Just saying.

As we headed into Busselton, we felt as though we were in the scene from Independence Day, where they are driving to the White House and above them is that ominous cloud/spaceship. We stopped off at an olive farm called Petra where we tasted lots of different oils, vinegars, creams (made out of olives), and, naturally, olives. The lady serving us spent most of her time sweeping ash off the products.

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We were lucky enough to feed a wild Mantra Ray

We were lucky enough to feed a wild Manta Ray

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Having some bruschetta from the olive farm

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After visiting our first cave, Ngilgi Cave, which was a cool experience (but not as good as ones later to come), we tried to find a campsite. There was a long stretch called Caves Road which had campsite after campsite, but all with different religious affiliations. There was a Catholic campsite, followed by Anglican, then Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, Scientology, Satanism, you name it, there was a campsite for every God, but none for Atheism. No Atheist campsite for us. We were gutted as we really wanted to spread the word in our own Atheist camp. We found a site inclusive of every religion on the planet, and upon arriving, learnt that at every camp appeared to house pods/herds/litters of feral kids wandering aimlessly around the park. They were generally covered in mud accumulated over the course of the week, face smudged with a concoction of dirt and snot, wearing only shorts. Some were still sucking on a stick where, days before, a lollipop had once been. When you crawled past them in the car, they would look in with a hopeful stare, desperate for you to be their parent with a bag of chips. Nevertheless, we were sure that Fagan’s Boys would scrub up all nice, don a school uniform and once again become the model student in class – it was the school holidays after all.

Visiting a shearing shed made me realise that Australia does not need woollen clothes. We walked into the shop with all the wool products (Uggs etc.) and instantly felt as though we were in a sauna. We checked out Sunflower Farm where nearly all the animals were rescued or given to them to look after. The farm ranged from some fucking huge pigs, a guinea pig pen where you could pick up a guinea pig (if you could catch the damn things), a talking parrot, and a billy goat which looked exactly like Gandalf. Our second cave, Calgardup, was a slightly different experience to Ngilgi Cave. We were given a torch and a helmet and had to walk through it ourselves. Cave darkness is truly the darkest darkness I have ever been dark in. Later that night we made friends with our campsite neighbours. We shared some beers and chat. Turns out the couple had three kids each of their own, so six kids in total. It was all fun and games until they started telling us that his oldest kid and her oldest kid were starting to experiment with each other. We bid them a good night and got the hell out of there.

The next day we went to our third and final cave which was by far the best. Giants Cave presented us with narrow alleys, thin gaps to squeeze through, and sections where you definitely needed a helmet.

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Gandalf the goat

Our last day on the road was spent on a wine and brewery tour. We were to visit three wineries, two breweries, a chocolate and a cheese factory.
Stop 1: Tassel Park winery – Drunk Level = Barbara Windsor after a couple down the Nags Head.
Stop 2: Cheese Factory – Drunk Level = Keith Richards having just woken up.
Stop 3: Fermoy Estate Winery – Drunk Level = Keith Richards after breakfast.
Stop 4: The Bootleg Brewery for lunch and a selection of beers – Drunk Level = David Hasselhoff in that video where he’s smashed.
Stop 5: Margaret River Chocolate Factory – Drunk Level = Mel Gibson
Stop 6: Evans & Tate Winery – Drunk Level = The Pogues lead singer, Shane MacGowan.
Stop 7: A brewery (no idea what the name was) – Drunk Level = Oliver Reed/George Best/Keith Richards by lunchtime.

The next day it was back to Kelly’s for an extremely hungover drive home. We spent the last two days relaxing with the family, then off to Singapore! We would like to take this opportunity to thank Kelly and her gang, Uncle Ray, Auntie Jean, Kieran, Linda, Eleanor and Charlotte for an amazing time. Next stop, Singapore!

 

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To the wine!

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