Happy Australia day! Lady Watson, who I’m travelling with, calls it Invasion Day. I believe it’s a massive deal around the country and we left Perth just in time to miss the festivities. But never worry! We’re here, at Monkey Mia, and it is beautiful and they have Australia Day bunting, so I feel complete.
The journey here was long-ish, at nine hours, but worth it, for the drive and the destination. We drove on long, straight, deserted roads through what I think I can officially call The Bush. The further north we travelled, the bushier the bush became, and the redder the landscape till it was, well, exactly like the images of Australia you’ll be familiar with. I can confirm that Australia does, in fact, look like itself. Adding to this very strong sense of place was the helpful kangaroo who, as well as confirming where I was, tried to give me a cardiac arrest by almost jumping out in front of the car while I was driving. Sadly, the roadside is dotted with the carcasses of his pals who aren’t so fleet of foot.
What I was not expecting from this landscape was the noise. Lady W and I pulled over a couple of times to swap driving duties. When you open the door of your lovely air-conditioned car out there, the first thing that hits you immediately is the punishing heat. The second is the fact that the air is alive with the din of ticks and chirrups from a million tiny creatures. They may be small but they create a noise akin to a deafening insect version of the sound between radio stations. The bush is no quiet wilderness.
As its name suggests, there are, in fact, no monkeys here whatsoever. But there are pelicans and emus and dolphins, all of which are very tame. The emus wander around through the villas (no sign of Rod Hull as yet), the pelicans stand beside you on the beach, giving themselves a trim with their big scissor beaks and the dolphins come in to the shallow water at the beach for a feed every few hours. There’s an argument that this could be damaging for dolphins, making them less able to survive in the wild, but it seems to be well managed by a team of rangers who genuinely care about the animals, so it ok-ish, as dolphin welfare goes.
We’ve a couple of lazy beach days here before heading back to Perth, to be spent swimming, reading and snoozing. And drinking cocktails. Well, it’s an important national celebration, after all. Happy Australia day!