Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Pinnacles

Our trip from Kalgoorlie back to Perth was by train, on the Prospector. I particularly enjoyed this opportunity since I wrote some of the software while working for Jacques Electronics in 2002. The old train used to run on narrower gauge tracks, but the track and service was upgraded, and Jacques had the contract for the train management, emergency/crew communications and passenger entertainment systems (and possibly more, but those are the parts I was involved in) for the new carriages.

  (Look closely at these photos for Jacques logos.)

A salty lake we passed.

In any event, it was a delightful journey: very comfortable, fast, lovely scenery—and so good to not have to concentrate on driving for seven hours. I even managed to nap a little! Well worth the fare, and highly recommended. They also showed Hachi, a beautiful movie that had me crying and crying at the end.

So we got to Perth, and being a little travel-weary and warm (it was much warmer in Perth than it had been in Kalgoorlie) we took a taxi to our hotel, the Comfort Inn Wentworth Plaza on Murray St. After a rest, we went for a short walk around town and bought some groceries, then found some dinner at the Formosa Vegetarian Eating House on James St.

Decor at the Comfort Inn Wentworth Plaza. Notice the brown leather couch? We kept seeing those everywhere we went in WA. Whoever sells them must be making a small fortune!

This is London Court: a little slice of London in the middle of Perth. Very appropriate, given how many British people live there. Laetitia loved it.

The next day (Thursday; don't worry, I'd well and truly lost track of the days by this point too!) we were booked on a day trip to the Pinnacles, on the coast north of Perth (about half-way to Geraldton). They picked us up at our hotel, and after meeting up with several other coaches and getting put onto the right one, off we went. First stop was the Caversham Wildlife Park in Whiteman Park. Apart from sleepy koalas and an old wombat, what I found most interesting there were the white kangaroos! Apparently they're actually red kangaroos, but the red colour has been bred out of them. They only exist in captivity; the trait must be recessive.


Then it was on to the gift shop / restaurant at Cervantes for lunch, with a couple of stops to check out wildflowers and at beachside towns for a look at the ocean.

After lunch, on to the main event.

The Pinnacles are limestone pillars formed as water washed over and through the calcium-rich sand. They have many holes and root-marks from where trees and other vegetation were growing through them in the past. (Well, that's actually backwards, isn't it? The limestone formed around the roots.) As the dunes shift, the standing stones emerge. But enough words; here are some pictures.

Unfortunately, while walking around the Pinnacles, some sand or something must have gotten into my camera lens, because it stopped zooming smoothly. Very annoying! It will need to go in for repair.

On the way home we took the new coastal highway, only opened the previous weekend. It was a lovely drive. We stopped for a look at a shanty town called Grey, an interesting place with a maze of sand tracks and friendly residents, and also in Grasstree Valley (yes, I have gratuitously renamed it) for photos.

In Lancelin our 4WD coach was put to good use: out we drove onto the sand dunes. Up and around and down some pretty steep slopes!

Laetitia tried sandboarding down the dunes (I decided not to, since I've done it before, and didn't especially enjoy getting all the sand out of every possible nook and cranny the last time).

Then it was back to Perth, as the sun set beautifully. For dinner we returned to James St, this time to an Indian place called The Golden Tandoori Restaurant.

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