Truthbutter

Pinnacles tour!

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Yesterday, I had my first official Australian tour! We were scheduled to leave at 7am, so I set my alarm for 5:45am – absurdly early for me, since my earliest classes start at 9:30am, and that’s only two days per week.

As it turns out, my alarm was unnecessary, because I was rudely awakened at about 5:15am by a fire alarm in our flat. When one smoke detector in the building goes off, the entire building has to evacuate, so we all shuffled outside into the cold and tried to figure out who had the audacity to burn something at five in the morning, so we could all glare angrily at them. We never figured out who set it off, but it’s nice that said person chose the one day I needed to get up early anyway! It also gave me time to make an omelette for breakfast, which is always a bonus.

There were about 17 of us on the trip – mostly people I knew already, but some new faces. I don’t really know what to call the vehicle we rode in, so here’s a picture:

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It was basically an awesome off-road vehicle that holds a lot of people. One person had to sit up front with the tour guide, and nobody seemed to want to (maybe they thought it would be awkward? I don’t know), so I volunteered.

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Turned out to be a great decision, because I got to ride with the window down (which I love) and choose the music, and I had a great view.

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The tour guide also turned out to be really cool and easy to talk to!

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Plus, everyone else basically slept whenever we were driving, which was kind of lame, so I’m glad I wasn’t stuck back there with them! Here’s a picture that I took right when we got in the truck (I’m just going to call it a truck), before everyone went back to sleep:

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Our first stop of the day was at Yanchep National Park, where we walked around and tried to spot wild koalas and kangaroos. We managed to spot a few koalas high up in some eucalyptus trees, and we had no trouble finding a ton of kangaroos!

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I got really close to them (within a foot) and got some pretty good pictures. This was a lot more enjoyable than my first kangaroo encounter at Caversham, because these kangaroos were wild and looked a lot healthier and happier. The kangaroos at Caversham weren’t really enclosed, but they just seemed overfed (from all the visitors feeding them) and lazy compared to the wild ones at Yanchep.

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This one had a joey in her pouch, although unfortunately I never caught a glimpse of it.

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The park itself was also very pretty, and there were ducks, which made me happy. Everyone was laughing at me for being so interested in the ducks when there were kangaroos nearby. I was laughing at them for being so interested in the kangaroos when there were ducks nearby.

(Just kidding.)

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There was also a weird chicken-bird kind of creature that made a brief appearance, but it was moving pretty fast so I didn’t get a great picture.

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Roaming around the park was a great relaxed way to start the day, and I took a TON of pictures. Then we all hopped back on the truck and headed to our next destination.

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We stopped by some sand dunes to go sand boarding, but decided it was too windy, and planned to stop by later in the day to try again. Then we headed to the Pinnacles, which were the main attraction of the day.

I had no idea what to expect, because I refused to look up pictures or information ahead of time so I could get the full effect when I got there. Turns out it’s a huge area of yellow sand and interesting rock formations, and nobody knows exactly how they came to be. One theory is that it used to be a forest, and the rocks are the calcified remains of burnt trees. It was actually pretty cool to just walk around and look at them, and I could tell it’s a big tourist attraction.

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We were all getting pretty hungry by this point, and food kept popping into our conversations more and more frequently, so we headed to a nearby beach for lunch. Our tour guide barbecued some onions and sausages while we all took a quick dip in the Indian Ocean. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting in the water even when it’s freezing, because I know it’ll feel great once I’m used to it. Plus, I’m in Australia! I can’t not swim in the ocean every chance I get.

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And I still can’t get over how clear and blue and gorgeous the water is here. The Atlantic Ocean definitely doesn’t look like that, at least not where I’m from!

Lunch was delicious; I had three sausages with mustard, some tomatoes, cheese, and pickled beets. And some of us climbed onto the roof of the outdoor barbecue area to finish eating and just hang out, which was fun! We learned how to say “SpongeBob SquarePants” in German. It literally translates to “Spongebob sponge head,” which we all found pretty funny. It was kind of a struggle getting down from the roof though.

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After lunch, we went back to the dunes and decided that the weather was calm enough for some sand boarding. Half the fun was getting there; the truck was built specifically for off-roading circumstances such as driving over rocks and sand dunes, and our tour guide had some fun giving us all heart attacks by driving down an incredibly steep dip. I was sure we were going to either topple forward or smash the windshield into the ground, and being in the front seat, I had a prime view, so I saw what was coming before the rest of the group started screaming. It was a blast, though!

Once we parked, we climbed up a dune with our sand boards, and the braver souls gave it a go right away. I was just enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to wear shoes for this particular activity, and also the fact that I was on top of a massive pile of sand and felt like I was in the middle of a desert in Egypt.

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After watching a few other people go down the dune, I tried it, and I managed to actually stay standing the whole time! I didn’t go very far, because the board kept getting stuck part way down the dune, but it was still fun.

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Walking back up the dune was rough, though. It was still pretty windy, and we got sandblasted the whole way up. The worst part was getting it in our eyes, and half the time I just walked up with my eyes closed and felt my way to the top.

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We saw some people with motor bikes going over the dunes, which was awesome! They caught some pretty good air, and it looked like a blast. Unfortunately, we also saw some poor guy on a sand board wipe out pretty bad. He was just riding down on his butt, but he was going super fast, and at the bottom, the sand turned into rock. The board stopped, but he didn’t and he hit his head really hard. Our tour guide had to call an ambulance, but he’s going to be fine. The good news is that this was the first time our guide has ever had to call an ambulance for someone! And he wasn’t even in our tour group.

The sand boarding pretty much concluded our day, and after that we just drove back to Murdoch along the coast. Almost everyone was asleep, but I was wide awake and enjoying the ride!

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It was fun being driven around in the truck, because it just feels so powerful and rumbly, and you sit so high up! It was actually kind of hard to get in and out of the front seat, because it was so tall. And although I loved having the wind in my face the whole trip, I did experience a downside to being right next to the window.

I was just resting my head on my hand, and I felt something in my hair. I assumed it was a piece of plant or seaweed or something, so I just grabbed it and pulled it out. But when I brought my hand around, I was holding a huge black WASP! I squealed and threw it on the floor of the bus, and then huddled as far away from it as possible on the seat while a guy sitting behind me laughed and took a picture of the wasp. The tour guide said it had probably smacked into the mirror and bounced into my hair as we were driving.

Thankfully, he pulled over on the highway so I could open my door and boot the wasp out with a roll of paper towels, but I was definitely freaking out. I still can’t believe I grabbed it with my fingers and pulled it out of my hair without it stinging me! I’m just thankful I didn’t know it was a wasp until it was already off of my head, because I honestly don’t know how I would’ve gotten it out if I was aware of its stinging capabilities.

Other than the traumatic wasp experience, the trip back was uneventful, and we stopped at a beach in Freo to watch the sunset.

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It was such an enjoyable day, and I didn’t even get sunburnt, although I did have a truly ridiculous amount of sand in my hair. And although this one was just a day trip, it was with the same company that Murdoch University uses for the Northwest trip (10 days) and the Southwest trip (long weekend) that I’ll be doing later in the semester, so I see it as a small taste of greater adventures to come!

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3 Thoughts on “Pinnacles tour!

  1. Anne luck on August 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm said:

    Looks like it was an incredibly fun day Alyssa! It also looks like there was a shark in the water in that sunset photo…

  2. Wow what a great trip love the pics

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