The distributor took some setting up as it was an old second hand job but by Wednesday morning we had it running. It has to be tuned every morning though as the contact gap wanders while driving so its not a long-term solution but it will get us around to the east coast.
We hit the road and drove up north to Cervantes. It is just a small village which we didn’t spend much time in but nearby are the Pinnacles - a large field of strange limestone pillars that protude out of the desert near the coast. I wasn’t expecting much from this place but was pleasantly surprised - it has an eerie feeling about it. Afterwards, we had a look at some stromatalites in the area. They’re not much to look at but are interesting for what they represent (living microbes which are almost identical to organisms which existed 2000 million years ago and formed the basis for modern lifeforms).
After some unsucessful fishing attempts along the coast, the road north brought us to Geraldton which is a sizeable town. Here we came across our first free gas barbeque. They have them at parking sites near the beach along with toilets and showers. Luxury.
On Friday morning we did the Geraldton lobster factory tour which was not bad for 5 dollars. Then it was a long and dusty drive out an outback road to another country. Yep, another country that I never even knew existed (neither did you so don’t say you did you lying feckers). The “Hutt River Principality” is legally another country seceded from the Commonwealth of Australia under a hastily closed legal loophole in 1970. The place is gimmicky but quite cool. It’s basically a farmhouse, a postoffice and souveniour shop. The Prince (Leonard Casley) showed us around and stamped our passports and is an all-round cool chap. He declared the place independant after an argument with the Australian government over wheat quotas. He takes great delight in how much they dislike his existance and endeavours to send representatives to international meetings to goad them. Quality.
Afterwards, we headed to Kalbarri where we found another great site, with BBQ etc. These are going to be alot of help on this trip and definately an improvement from parking in fields and truck stops. We also caught our first fish here but it was only a small blowfish. Still, progress.
On Saturday we drove up to Denham in the Shark Bay area. There’s not much here except clear waters and desert country. We stopped off at some scenic gorge sites but they weren’t that exciting. The next day we headed to the famous Monkey Mia, where friendly dolphins come onto the beach (the free fish they’re given isn’t the only reason - its cos they’re friendly right?). The two Rs went on a boat trip to see the sealife (of which they saw very little excpet a loggerhead turtle) while I sat typing this before we headed further north to Carnavon.
We’ve been here long enough to talk a bit about the culture now so brace yourself. The Australians we’ve met have generaly been very friendly and professional in their work. They are easy-going and happy to help you out. Petrol is cheap. Everything is spotlessly clean and well maintained and the free gas barbeques in the towns and along the highways are pure genius. The reputation the place has for being upside down is true in some instances though. For instance, the beer is expensive and crap, but the wine is cheap and very good. Everything closes at 5.30 even in the city centre. People who are perfectly friendly during the day can become aggressive buffoons when they’ve had a beer in the evening. And everyone still thinks sarcasm is really funny. As for the attitude to aboriginals - mainly the people who bring the subject are the racists so it can quickly give you the impression that racism is endemic in the culture which is not the case. The younger people we’ve met have been well informed about aboriginal issues.