Friday, April 10, 2009

Great Southern Region

I visited the Great southern Region of Western Australia this week. Before you get confused, here are a few details:

Western Australia has an area of 2 525 500 square km (33% of Australia). Compared to Texas - 696,241 km², and the whole USA at 9,826,630 km2, this means it is one BIG state. (With a total population of just over 2 million, of which 75% live around Perth.) This is larger than the combined areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

This is why WA is divided into smaller regions, like the Great Southern region, the Mid West region, South East, etc. So, when I talk about the “Great southern region of Western Australia, that’s what I am talking about - an area in the state of Western Australia that is larger than some countries.

Great southern region on WA map

If you’re still awake, here’s the rest of the story:

I did a lot of driving this week, through various small towns. As I haven’t written on this blog for quite a while, I decided to tell you about some of the things I saw and experienced.

The scenery in this region is very monotonous, and the surrounding area seems to be the same wherever you go. There are no mountain ranges that you can see from afar, and therefore no distinct landmarks that you can see.

Coming from a country that covers an area of 825,418 km2 , I am used to driving vast distances - with one big difference: If you drive 500km in Namibia, the surrounding environment changes all the time. You can also see mountain ranges and landmarks that give you an idea of where you are. This is not the case in the GSR, or most of what I’ve seen in WA so far. The first time I saw something looking remotely like a decent mountain, was on my way to a small town called Borden.

The Stirling range can be seen from far away, and brought back some memories of real mountains. It was the first time in 6 months that I have seen a real mountain, and was a good experience.

I saw some funny things along the road. One of them was this sign:

I am still going to find out where that name came from - I’m sure it must be connected to Etosha in northern Namibia.

I found out that it is not always easy to get a good cup of coffee along the road. Some of the coffee that you pay for is really bad - cheap instant coffee with absolutely no taste. I figured out how to locate decent coffee - you look for these signs in front of a shop:

They have machines that make you a flat white , cappuccino, or whatever you need - real coffee coming from freshly grounded beans. You can pay up to $4.00 for a cup, but in my opinion it’s worth it. I just love a good decent cup of coffee - it’s one of my weaknesses.

I went through a lot of places with weird names. We stayed over in Katanning, and drove to places like Jerramungup, Gnowangerup, Ongerup, Borden, and so on. On the way to Katanning I drove through Wagin, and saw this massive ram in town. Apparently it is nine times larger than a real ram:

In Gnowangerup I found this funny little thing, and figured out later that it was a worm that was breaking out of it’s cocoon. It looked really weird, and I had to take some photos.

These hairy worms make long trails. All of the little hairy worms follow the leader, and this bunch got confused when they couldn’t figure out a way to get out of the manhole.

This sign below made me wonder what I actually was allowed to do. Not much left to prohibit, is there?

My trusty old GPS helped me a lot, although it became confused at times, when the GPS map and the real road did not agree about the position. I had an “old-fashioned” printed map with me just in case.

On the way back I was stopped in Beverly. The Police made me blow into the breathalizer. The Easter weekend was just starting, and they were not letting anyone drive by without blowing. In another town they had a speed trap.

As I had to cover more than 450 km from Ongerup to Perth, I was in no mood to drive the slow maximum of 110km/h. I am still used to putting my foot down when I’m on the open road. You don’t see many people going faster than the speed limit, however - which is probably a good thing.

This was a long week, and finally, at the beginnning of the Easter weekend, I found myself back home between 7 and 8PM on Thursday night. The kids were ecstatic about Dad being back home. And so was I.

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