After spending so much time in bigger cities around the world, I decided to slow things down and hit the smaller towns in the south western part of Australia. From all the other world travelers I met on my trip they said I had to go to this region. From the Australians I met, most of them had never been to the west coast let alone these small towns, so I figured I was ready for a little small town Australia and I`m really glad I did! Margaret River was a great start, but from there, Aileen and Kiri and I drove up to Dunsbourgh.
Dunsbourgh – Population 2,500 (seriously!).
-I had honestly never heard of this place, but Kiri and Aileen said there was a great beach festival, with live music and food/drink on Saturday and they had found a place for us to stay so off we went. All I knew was it was a beach side town and there would be a big beach party…so we thought.
-When we got to town, we weren`t able to check in yet as most hostels only open for a couple hours and this one was open from 8-12 and 4-8, so we just headed to the beach to check out the big party. What we found once we got there, was a very small gathering on the beach. There was live music, but what we found out it was live Aboriginal music and Aboriginal dancing in costumes. It actually was fun to watch as the dancing was acting out tribal dances and acts like hunting and the dance group included young kids and grandpa. We decided to sit and watch for a while. We later learned this festival was a coastal awareness event and there was little to no food and no drinks – or no adult drinks I should say. But we sat on the beach for a while and took in the sunshine and had a nice afternoon.
-Sunday Sesh – I learned this is a big deal in Australia. Every Sunday the thing to do is find the best pub and go in the afternoon to drink and listen to the live band. We were told “The Caves” in Yallingup was the place to be and so we took a cab there and had a great afternoon/night. All the young people were there and the band was great and the beer was even better. Most of the people from our hostel were there as well, so it was a fun crowd. I think we were there from about 3pm till it closed at 10pm. Great fun!
-Dunsbourgh ended up being a great little town to chill in, but I think half the fun was being with Aileen and Kiri as we just were silly, ate and drank and had fun. I don`t know if I would have had the same experience if I was on my own as everyone at the hostel was working in town and were not too friendly to the new kids like us. So after 2 nights, we were off. I was headed to another city that was recommended and they were both heading back to Perth, but offered to drop me off in Busselton on the way north.
Busselton – Population 11,000
– The main reason I wanted to come here was to see the Busselton Jetty as it`s the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere (the longest is in the UK and is 0.1 km longer). I was told to go see the jetty and try to get a ticket to the underwater observatory at the end of the jetty. I will say it was a fun experience. On the long 30 minute walk to the end of the jetty, I met a little old man and his bucket of crabs. I looked in and saw bright blue crabs that he just caught and ended up talking to him for 20 minutes about the crabs, how he was going to cook them up for his wife and granddaughter and then all about life in western Australia. Then he wanted to ask me all about America. It was a random but fun conversation in the middle of the jetty. People were excited they could fish on the jetty as it was closed for a week in preparation for the Busselton Ironman race that happened the day before I got there, so the town was still buzzing from all the excitement. Anyways, this jetty was so long and so old – each board had holes and I had to watch where I was walking. The jetty took 95 years to complete the jetty. Interesting…this jetty has suffered a lot from a cyclone in 1978 that destroyed most of it, then a huge fire burned down half in the middle (because a stupid man flicked a cigarette butt onto a wooden jetty and it caught). There wasn`t really a plan in place for a fire and there she burned!
-The underwater observatory was a highlight as I love fish. I considered going scuba diving as you are allowed to, but decided I could see it all without the gear and I`d save my money to dive elsewhere. We were so close to schools of fish, so many types of things growing on the jetty as the supporting beams have been underwater since 1865 when construction began.
–First Haircut in 8 months! – I haven`t cut my hair since April and I desperately needed one before my ends split up to my scalp. So I finally found a place that seemed good and was so happy. To start with, the chair they washed my hair in was a massage chair, offered me a cappuccino and really took great care of me. Now I`ve been to fancy salons in NYC and San Francisco and never seen anything like that. Super treat. Plus the girl that cut my hair was said she would dry and and added curls just cause she thought it would be nice since it`s been so long since I`ve done that. Who would have thought I would be treated like a princess in such a small town!
-Only bad thing about Busselton was the hostel I stayed in. I couldn`t wait to leave as there were so many rude people living there and working and selfish! Basically there 10 Indian guys that ruined the party. The rest were odd, but ok including one man that was so down on his luck and was a wander or nomad as he called himself. Another guy was an alcoholic and was living in a tent on the lawn and came in and asked how I was as he petted me on the head like a cat. Strange and that was my cue to leave. I later learned he was an alcoholic from others that know he and he his harmless, but just a weird bunch of people and Ive never been to a hostel with such a mix. Guess that`s what you get in a really small town. Anyways, I couldn`t sleep at night and yet was rudely awoken at 5:30am when the 10 Indian guys were running around the house screaming and slamming things into each other. Lucky I was there 1 night and on my way out! It was a peaceful morning as the cleaning lady and her baby were there along with 3 guys that competed in the Iron Man race and were getting ready to return to Scotland…so there were other normal people there.
Bunbury – Population 28,000 (2nd largest city in western Australia)
-The main reason I went to Bunbury was to see wild dolphins and be able to interact with them at the dolphin interactive center. I was pleased to learn there was a lot more fun stuff and a great town to relax in.
-I just love Target and found a full size one and actually found a new swimsuit. Milena and I found this one in Margaret River, but they didn`t have my size, and I`ve been on the lookout for it and Bunbury Target had it and it was on sale. Double score!
-I spent my time in town enjoying great restaurants (actually ate at the same Thai place twice as it was the best in town and so great!) I also got to read a lot to the point I actually took my book to a pub to keep reading (and avoid walking home in pouring rain and a local tried to talk to me and I just didn`t want to talk as I was too wrapped up in my book.).
-Seeing the dolphins…we were told they tend to swim into shore between 8-12noon, so I was there in the middle of it and had to wait. Pesky dolphins decided to make me sit on a beach for an hour until they arrived, but it was great as two dolphins, mama and child came and swam around us, did a few twirls and were very entertaining. All in all, they stayed and swam with us for about 15 minutes.
-Bunbury was a great small town (to me), but to locals its a big town and I had to be really sensitive when I referred to it.
–Dunsbourgh – Dunsbourgh Lodge – simple hotel like place. More hotel than hostel, but lots of people around (mostly workers at a hotel/bar). For a weekend, it worked fine. 9756 7277 or www.dunsbourghinn.com
–Busselton – Busselton Backpackers – don`t stay there as old and noisy building and too many workers there and not travelers.
-Bunbury – Dolphin Retreat YHA – nice simple hostel and I would stay again for a couple days. Close to town and easy to meet others. 9792 4690