Thursday, March 22, 2018

17 March 2018 - Day 14 - Frazer Range Station to Albany

Sleep had been adequate and I woke up by 5 am feeling fully refreshed. The medicine had also played its part in making sure that my sleep was undisturbed. By 6.15 am I dropped the key in the designated box at the reception and I made haste on the rest of the Eyre Highway and Nullarbor Plains. It was just a 100 km to Norseman. When I reached there and saw the facilities at the Norseman Eyre Motel I was more than convinced that I should have done this stretch last evening itself. The motel had free Wi-Fi which kept me rooted in the restaurant for nearly an hour making a few posts and catching up on what was happening in the social media. I was hungry as hell and first thing had to be coffee and breakfast. I went through the options and opted for the Brekitt wrap, which was hash browns, eggs, cheese and bacon in a pita bread wrap. The wrap was fresh and truly delicious. I took my time over it, both because the portion was large and I wanted the taste to linger. 

As I was working on the Fb posts I found a lady in Indian clothes with a young kid at the counter. I opened up a conversation with her. She and her family, originally from Mumbai, are now based out of Koolgarlie, where her husband works with a company that does mechanical repairs and maintenance.
Once the work was done to the extant I could I set course for Esperance. I took the NR1 and avoided all the shortcuts thrown up by Google Maps. With Norseman I had reached the end of the Eyre Highway and I had traversed the entire length of the ‘dangerous road’; 1660 km. The Nullabor Plains was also over, technically at least, with Norseman. Similar landscape continued till almost the entrance to Esperance. The drive was monotonous with unvarying landscape and predictable road conditions. I stopped en route to fuel at Ravensthorpe. A Sardar from Hoshiarpur was in charge of the fuel station. The Indian curries on display was not yummy enough to the eye and hence, left without tasting any of them.

I had booked to stay in the Youth Hostel in Albany. Little did I realise that the setting of the hostel would be so heavenly. It was just a stone’s throw away from the Ocean front. I had every intention of exploring the waterfront later. There was enough and more car park available in the YHA. When I went up to the reception I read that this is a self check in and check out hostel. I was completely lost. I rang up the toll free number and Sandy answered. She said that she had been expecting me, but that the credit card details I had given at the time of online booking would not deposit the charges into the hostel account. I gave her the requisite details and she took me through a set of instructions to extract the key from a locked box. It is a 6 share accommodation. When I went to the room I found that I was alone in there, or so it seemed. I put my bags in the room locker and kept my towel in one of the lower bunks, to mark my territory, and decided to explore the waterfront by foot.

In a short while I returned to the hostel to reclaim the car as the distance was deceptive and I did not want the blisters to get a fresh lease of life. Since I had the car I decided to go a bit further and visit The Gap, which is highly recommended for anyone visiting Albany. The Gap is part of the Thorndirrup National Park. This part of Western Australia was once connected to Antarctica when it was part of the larger continent of Gondwanaland. There are two lookouts to view the Natural Bridge and The Gap. One can feel the might of the surge of the Southern Ocean from these points. The viewpoint at the Natural Bridge can be a bit unnerving as it shakes when massive waves hit the rocks below and send thick sprays of sea water upward. The formations have been carved out through centuries of wave action and weathering. The Green Islands, just to the south west of the massive rock formations, forms a great foreground against the setting sun. Warnings about people coming to grief from straying from the pathways are all over. The tragedy that almost befell a youngster who got swept away by the waves is a grim warning for those who even think of such misadventures.

The hostel had a busload of students from Perth, on a weekend tour. Despite all the beers and, I suspect, a few marijuana joints discreetly rolled, their behavior was very proper. I had a chance to interact with a couple of them; Canadian students on an exchange program. They gave me valuable information about life and climes in Canada that would be useful while finalizing the Trans Canadian car expedition next year. Later, a few beers and chips were all that was required to close out the day.

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