I’m not even there yet and Australia is everywhere. Andy Murray is slowly baking on centre court in Melbourne and flying doctors are valiantly fighting bushfires. Maybe I misheard that last bit of news.
I finally got a grip and have been gathering what I need for going, and arming myself with information. This has been really useful but has also had the unfortunate effect of scaring the bejaysus out me. At the weekend I skyped the friend I’ll be staying with in Perth, and she, visibly sweating across the miles, told me it was 44 degrees there. I am currently bundled up in the layers necessary to deal with the filthy weather we’ve been having here, and I’m not sure how my body is going to cope going from zero to 44. Isn’t that a recipe for chilblains*? Maw Broon says so. Although Maw Broon also says you can get piles from sitting on a cold wall in summer, so what does she know.
There’s also the big issue of tiny bugs. I’ve read Bill Bryson. I know there are more ways I can be killed or maimed by a beastie in Australia than anywhere else on the planet. Put together. My solution to this will be to take industrial quantities of deet and bathe regularly in it. I forsee a tiny fly in the ointment (if you’ll pardon this horrific pun) when I’m travelling through the outback, where, I presume, there’s a surplus of beasties and, sadly, a corresponding shortage of bathtubs. Which is why I’m packing a paddling pool. Having said that, last time I deeted liberally was on a trip to Africa, where I was so comprehensively soaked in the stuff that when I picked up a roll of gaffa tape I had in my luggage, it melted in my hand. Why I had a roll of gaffa tape on a trip to rural sub-saharan Africa is lost to me now, much like the tape. Maybe I need to rethink the paddling pool idea and pack a tin bath instead.
First excursion from Perth, where I’m mostly based, will be to Monkey Mia, a resort which is a ten hour drive away. This is apparently the Australian equivalent of popping to Largs for a cone and a go on the puggies. If you imagine Australia as being like the head of a terrier in profile (that can’t just be me, can it?) Perth is near the bottom of the snout, where a cigarette might be seen to droop, if terriers liked a wee puff now and again. Monkey Mia hangs off a peninsula near the top, a kind of dog bogey, if you will. Looking at this on the map the other day, the thought of driving across this incredibly familiar but totally unknown expanse literally made me gasp. But I’m game and looking forward to the road trip.
With a name like Monkey Mia, you might, reasonably, expect to see monkeys there. It is, in fact, a renowned dolphin sanctuary. Go figure. Checking it out online, it seems that an alternative name for the resort is Shark Bay. I’m now deeply confused about whether I can expect to see monkeys there, or dolphins, or sharks. Maybe it’ll be a curious mix of all three. Either way, I’m buying more deet.
*And what are chilblains, anyway?