Road trip across Australia – Day 22 Return to Perth

I was up early again. This time not to photograph a sunrise, which I’m sure was beautiful, but to farewell my host who works at a mine so has a long day.

We packed the car for one final time and had a look around Hopetoun. It is a very small community that is situated on the edge of the Fitzgerald River National Park, but we opted to head east, following some of the nearby beaches, which are all named after distances: Two Mile Beach, Five Mile Beach, etc.

These names indicate their distance from Hopetoun, and we drove as far as Jerdacuttup Lake which is part of the Jerdacuttup Lakes Nature Reserve, which covers an area of around 7,800 hectares.
The beaches we saw were superb, but completely devoid of people. Although it was winter and easy to understand why they might be empty, Hopetoun really doesn’t have a big enough population to fill the beaches at the height of summer, so even with the best of conditions it would be easy to find you own generally uninhabited piece of beach down this way.

Turning back, we drove along the main road to Ravensthorpe, which is a bigger town than Hopetoun, but which still seemed relatively quiet. There are a number of mines around Ravensthorpe, so it does seem to have some good facilities, although, from conversations I had with our hosts, locals still tend to drive either to Esperance of Albany for their major shopping.

From Ravensthorpe we took the Hyden road and we were met almost straight away by a convoy of trucks carrying extra-wide loads which consisted of demountable houses. These houses were so wide we needed to pull right off the road and stop in order to give them enough space to pass.

The drive to Hyden is quite interesting as there are many lakes in the area. Because there had recently been a lot of rain most of the lakes were full, but in summer many of them would be completely dry. With rain comes vegetation, and everything looked quite lush, although this is not always the case.

About two hours after leaving Ravensthorpe we neared Hyden, but as the road passes Wave Rock before reaching the town proper, we deviated to visit Hyden’s most famous tourist attraction.
Wave Rock, so called because it is actually shaped like a wave, really does have to be seen in its natural state to be fully appreciated as photos do not reveal its true scale. The wave part constitutes only a tiny section of the rock, which is big enough to carry a reservoir which feed Hyden’s water needs.

I wandered over to the Visitor’s Centre that is situated just opposite the rock.

The Visitor’s Centre is surprisingly interesting, comprising of a cafe, a gift shop, and visitor’s information centre, a wildlife park (we’d met some of its camels having a walk), a lace museum and a model soldier museum.

We visited the Lace Museum, not expecting much, but found it to be fascinating, and I have no real interest in lace. Some of the lace dates back to the 16th century, and there are many wedding dresses and other garments on display, as well as hundreds of various types of lace, some of which is very fine and complex indeed.

The Model Soldier Museum was equally fascinating, as there are displays of replicas of battles covering many eras to see. It must have been painstaking work painting each individual piece, there are hundreds of them, and making the various displays, but it is very well done and anyone with even a rudimentary interest in military history could spend much time learning how various battles were fought.

After leading Hyden we followed the road to Brookton, and as we got further west we began to get more rain.

From Brookton we followed the Brookton Highway to the outskirts of Perth, where I used my local knowledge to follow shortcuts to home.

About ten minutes from home the heavens opened up and the rain came bucketing down. I’d just driven across Australia and back, and this was my greeting. It didn’t matter the end of the trip was inevitable.

I’d been away for three weeks and had enjoyed it immensely. Driving across Australia is time consuming, because of the immense distances, but it is certainly not hard. In fact, it is a brilliant way to get to know and appreciate Australia as you see many facets of this great country.

My greatest impression of the transcontinental drive was that much of Australia is still in pristine condition. We have not ruined out country by changing too much, or by over populating the place. I was fortunate to experience many brilliant parts of the country, and I look forward to exploring Australia a lot more.

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