A Year in Australia (part 3 of 3)
For the final six weeks I traveled on my own. After making enough money to move again, I bought a train ticket from Melbourne to Perth stopping in Adelaide for a weekend. Adelaide is dull and hardly warrants a mention at all other then that it has nice beaches.
From Adelaide I went on to Perth which took about fifty hours through the Nullabor Plain. It is an amazing trip through the bush with nothing for thousands of miles except red earth and parched plants.
Train-lagged and in bad need of a bed I arrived in Perth. I had met a group of Irish and Scottish backpackers on the train so we all went to the same hostel in Northbridge. Over the weekend we discovered that Perth is, fortunately, a party town. After spending the weekend on a complete bender, I had to leave for the sake of my sanity and went over to Rottnest Island with some mates for a few days camping.
Rottnest is a practically uninhabited island which gets its name from the furry little marsupials called quakkas which inhabit the island. A Dutch explorer who circumnavigated the island decided, quite rashly, that they were rats, thus 'rats nest'. They are, in fact, the cutest little creatures imaginable. We snorkeled most of the way around the island which was fantastic save for the long-tentacled transparent jellyfish which lacerate the unsuspecting snorkeller. Still, at least when people comment on your wounds you get to say "oh, just a jellyfish sting" rather than something very pedestrian like "oh, just heat rash".
The West coast feels like the real Australia. There is nobody there. On a 500km bus journey I saw five kangaroos, three emus and two cars. Sandy beaches stretch for miles without a soul on them. Outside of the few key tourist places to visit, it is utterly uninhabited. It is just as impressive as the East coast and every evening the sunsets over the ocean are breathtaking. I cycled for miles every day accompanied by a goodly percentage of the world's flies. After getting about 1000km up the west coast I began to run out of both time and money. I had overstayed my visa by about two months and I couldn't work legally so, time was called on the meandering tour of Australia.
Just before people on the one year visa went home, the standard question other backpackers asked them was: 'So, has it changed you?'. Typically "Yes, without a doubt" went the reply. Sounds cheesy, but I think most go home a new and improved version of their former selves. Their livers may be completely knackered but their souls are definitely in better shape.
Also check out the adventures of CLUAS on the plains of Andalucia in Spain.