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Friday, February 21: Day 305 – Sandboarding

Today is an all day bus ride north of Perth and we are traversing many small cities along the Swan River. It was originally called the Black Swan River as many of these birds were found here.

Gilford was the first established city along the Swan River during the settlement days.

Margaret River is known for its vineyards and wine production. We stopped at the Margaret River Chocolate Company. There were lots of samples. I particularly liked this topographical chocolate map of Australia.

“A balanced diet is chocolate in both hands.” Ha!

They also had many oils, soups mixes, jams, and liqueurs to sample and for sale.

Next we arrived at KoffeeWorks where Rob took part in a coffee tasting while I browsed around the store. They even had barista classes.

The next stop was in the land of honey…no milk. A little Biblical humor!

Honey to bee or not to bee? That is the question.

I didn’t sample anything because there were some young girls double dipping. Yuck. I headed over to learn more about mead. Mead is a fermented honey beverage which is believed to be the first fermented drink known to man. Here are some other fun facts.

The word honeymoon is a reference to the European custom of giving newlyweds enough mead, “an alcoholic liquor made by fermenting honey and water,” to last a month or moon.

A bee makes one teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. No bees means no food for all of us. Pollination is critical to the future of our food.

The Avon Descent is a whitewater river race involving the Avon and Swan Rivers from Northam to Perth. This is an annual whitewater rafting and even power boat race and was started in 1973. It occurs every August after the first rains. The river bed which is now dry collects so much water it swells the banks and creates many rapids covering 77 miles.

The little town of Bullsbrook is so small that if you blink, you will miss it. The Royal Australian Air Force trains its pilots here. Their motto is in Latin Per Ardua ad Astra which means “Through Adversity to the Stars”. Boy, does that sound familiar to this Kansas girl. The Kansas State motto in Latin is Ad Astra per Aspera which means “To the Stars through Difficulties”. Hmmm. Must have had the same Latin teacher!!

Mick is an unusual and totally Australian tour guide. We weren’t sure if he was an instigator of road rage or if it was normal to yell mild obsentities and gesticulate wildly at other drivers. Occasionally, he would let out a “Yeehaw” when the ride got bumpy. He loudly described fourteen head-on collisions happening just last year on this very stretch of road.

Mick stated that he was made in Western Australia. He lives in his car in the bush when he isn’t on tour. He met a woman who also lives in her car. What are the odds! Apparently not that high when you live in Western Australia.

Mick had the radio on loud and would often sing along. One of the tamer songs was Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet.

At Lancelin we arrived at the white sand dunes for a few runs of sandboarding. The sand looked like snow.

When I asked Mick how the dunes got here, he responded that they hadn’t moved since he was a tiger cub. Not exactly the scientific answer I was looking for!!

Sand dunes move with the wind. Mick used to make sandboards at $30 a piece and sold them for $80. He made ten every two weeks. He was “killin’ the pig” back then.

Next, a chance to put our feet into the cold Indian Ocean at Lancelin Beach.

Our final stop was Nambung National Park to see the pinnacles.

Nambung is an aboriginal name.

The Government of Western Australia recognizes and acknowledges Yued people as the traditional custodians of Nambung National Park.

These calcium carbonate pinnacles are said to be over 30,000 years old. They are the result of coastal and wind erosion.

Bush flies are literally everywhere. Mick advised us not to breathe through our mouths because bush flies don’t taste very good.

The bush flies are starved for protein, and they are getting it from our sweat.

Mick said the flies were especially bad due to the cloud cover holding in the humidity. He said that the lower temperature at night means less flies. I read on the internet that they can’t see as well at night.

I looked at Rob and said, “You paid for this?”

Rob and I headed different directions trying to get away from the bush flies and enjoy the amazing pinnacles. I kept wondering if my pictures would turn out when flies are all over it.

This guy and I started a dance marathon to keep the flies off. It was working but it might have been his outfit and tree sprig swatter. It reminded me of Eddie Murphy in “Coming to America”.This is an example of an informed tourist. I could have made a lot of money out here selling these to the highest bidder!!! I think that these should have been included in the tour. Rob and I will purchase these for future trips into the outback.

I saw this crazy man emerge from the pinnacles. He is wearing a dust mask and a coat completely surrounding his upper body. It must be the abominable FLY man. No it’s Rob!! I hardly recognized him.

I asked Mick what he was doing standing on the railing.

I am desperate.

He said,” Staying away from the flies.” Does that work?

Mick made us a picnic dinner. With all these flies? You have got to be kidding me.

Not to worry. They all leave after the sun goes down. Hard to believe, but it is true. Dinner is served at 7:08. No flies!!!

Now it is time for scary after dark stories. Mick told us about the time that he was stung by a stingray on the foot while taking eight girls on a tour. Stingray poison is a protein. The remedy is to submerge your foot in water as hot as you can stand to deactivate the poison like boiling an egg white. He would feel instant relief.

Mick would then drive down the road with his leg in the water. When he started to feel pain again, they would stop to get super-hot water, and then it was back to driving with his foot submerged. He felt pain for three days. He showed us his scar.

Now it was really dark, and he told us that we could see hundreds of spiders. We put on a headlamp and looked for small glittering diamonds. The eyes of spiders gleemed when you shined a headlamp at them.

Mick told us that he and his mates would ride through the outback with the windows down. When something came in the windows, one would yell, “What is that?” and flick it to the back.

We didn’t play that game, but he did show us a moth that landed on him.

I asked the name of  it and he said, “Big Bloody Moth”

Using my Google Lens, I was able to discern that it was a Bogong Moth.

The moth’s name, Bogong, is derived from the Australian Aboriginal Dhudhuroa word bugung, describing the brown colouration of the moth. It is an icon of Australian wildlife due to its historical role as an important food source and because aboriginal tribes would come to where the moths spend the summer to feast on them and hold intertribal gatherings.

During the spring the moths migrate south or east and reside in mountains, such as Mount Bogong, where they gregariously aestivate over the summer until their return toward breeding grounds again in the autumn.

Aestivation spelled estivation in America is a state of animal dormancy, similar to hibernation, although taking place in the summer rather than the winter. Aestivation is characterized by inactivity and a lowered metabolic rate, that is entered in response to high temperatures and arid conditions.

Here iss the way the seasons are determined in Australia:

  • Summer: December to February
  • Autumn: March to May
  • Winter: June to August
  • Spring: September to November

Last thought:
In Southest Asia we were confused why we needed to throw our toilet paper in the trash can. It is hard to change habits and we would often forget.

In Australia, we are not allowed to put the toilet paper in the trash can. I wonder if this is hard for Southeast Asia tourists to remember.
Trigger warning for our readers: Pictures, videos, and content might be difficult for some readers.
There was awful case of domestic violence in Australia where a man set his wife and three kids on fire in the car. Australians are admitting that domestic violence is one of their most pressing problems, and it all starts with education for women (and men) and for the police to take domestic violence seriously.

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