Two Yanks Downunder

A blog about the experiences of two Americans on their first visit to the fabulous continent of Australia

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Bunburying we will go

Our visit to Bunbury:

Well, Don here again, all we did in Bunbury was purchase petrol, but more about that in a bit.

Wendy loves that there is a town called Bunbury since it recalls to her an element of the comic Oscar Wilde play The Importance of Being Earnest. In this work, Algernon escapes the pressures of his family in town by pretending to visit his invalid friend Bunbury out in the country. This "Bunburying" of Algernon eventually leads to all sort of comic misunderstandings that disrupt the lives and plans of his loved ones for a time.

Back to our pending trip.

After illness interferred with our plans to travel south last weekend, we arranged to borrow a UNDA car for the next weekend, however, we would not be able to pick up those wheels until late Friday afternoon, and so we actually decided to rent a car from the local Bayswater Rental Agency and get an early start on Friday morning.

We had been advised to do a long loop in a counterclockwise fashion. This would involve a 5 to 6 hour drive on a supposedly not too interesting stretch of road to a coastal town with the familiar name of Albany. From there, it was recommended to travel along the South Coast and then turn north up through the extensive forests of Jarrah trees, the tall Karri trees and the large in girth and also tall Tingle trees. These are found nowhere else on earth and are confined to this relatively small part of the continent that is both hilly and receives ample rainfall. From the forests, we would meet the coast at Bunbury and return to Freo.

Given the weather predictions of intermittent rainfall, however, we reversed our course and decided to see the forests first, while the chances for rain were less than on the next couple of days.

Now to a topic of crucial importance for our survival on this mini vacation.

For some reason, we too were required to obey Australian laws and drive on the left hand side of the road. To supposedly facilitate this, the cars are designed with the steering wheel on the right. The key was to remember that the driver should be towards the center of the road and all would be well, at least in theory. Something else about this that was not readily apparent was that all of the controls are on the opposite sides as well. For instance, whenever we wanted to use our turn signal, we automatically flipped the stick on the left, which promptly sent the windshield wipers across the windshield and did nothing to indicate to our fellow drivers sharing the road what our changing lanes intentions might or might not be! Thank goodness we had a Toyota Corolla sedan that was an automatic, for as much as we enjoy manual transmission vehicles, one can only wonder how our coordination would fare performing that function left handed.

So, Friday morning we walk over to the rental agency, pick up the car and go back home to load everything up, however, we have to go into our alley and manouver the vehicle into our very small courtyard space while dealing with two kinds of supposedly automatic gates that have to be triggered open. It turns out to be a very tight squeeze, (....and Wendy refused to even try to do the backing in and parking. Don is a better man than I am, Gunga Din....) but the Toyota just fits into our courtyard and allows the gate to close. We scurry to load up everything for our journey and make a last minute tidying of a few rooms. Finally, we are off, but not so fast.

The streets in Fremantle are a hodge-podge of one way roads and avenues that turn and weave. Even after studying some local maps, we have to make some interesting adjustments to stay on Highway 14 which leads us to the Old Coast Road. This road turns out to be a divided four lane highway (much bigger and better than we expected) which was not to be forseen from the way the maps are made out, but this is to our benefit. Also, all the signs are in kilometers and the car speedometer as well. (Wendy wonders what he expected!) These are inflated compared to our miles and give one the psychological impression that things are further away and also that one is driving faster than back home. (It certainly gave Wendy that impression!! (grin)).

(Orchards are a very common sight in the South. Vinyards are everywhere! ws) This is true, Wendy is NOT deceiving you trusting readers this time. (But I might later, don't get lulled into a false sense of security! ws)

Lots of traffic accompanies us to Bunbury where we add half a tank of petrol for $42 A (equal to $34 U.S.) so fuel is significantly more expensive, at least in Bunbury!

From Bunbury we plunge off of the main road into the interior leaving the coastal plains behind and blessedly losing most of our fellow highway travelers!

A view of some of the wooded areas we drove through.

Yes, even the beginning of our time driving in the forests seemed quite promising, but even greater surprises waited for us further along into the deep, dark woods along the ever narrowing road with its innumerable curves and hills.


At 8:16 AM, Anonymous min said...

Wasn't Bunbury that sick old guy in "The Importance of Being Ernest"?

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Wendy and/or Don said...

Yes! Good memory!


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