Heading north-west: Esperance to Brookton

The sun wakes up far too early over in Western Australia. It was 5am when I found myself lying awake in a warm tumble of child and adult limbs in the back of our Kombi. 5am?! This was our sleep-in after all those dark early morning missions trying to beat the heat across the Nullabor?
Esperance was still asleep by the time we had pulled down the pop-top and righted our rock-n-roll bed. After taking our puppies for a walk on the smooth white sands of the gorgeously named Twilight Bay (no foppish vamps in sight!), we were on the road heading West by 6.30am.
We had initially planned to head along the coast up to Perth, but the dull grey sky with its cruel promise of rain made us opt for the northern road to Hyden and its famous Wave Rock.
The 250kms were uneventful, broken only by the rush of a man-size kangaroo shooting in front of our van. The landscape was returning to the familiar red sand and blue skies of an Outback postcard and we were glad to get out of the car when we made it to Hyden.
How to describe Wave Rock? It really is an unassuming Australian icon, sneaking quietly onto those calendars your nan always has, or popping up on coasters you buy at bargain shops to give to international visitors. Hyden is an agriculture town but it’s clear that it thrives on the money made by the 100,000 annual visitors to its unusual wave-shaped rock. When we arrived there was piles of people gathering in the car park, preparing diligently for the Aussie heat and flies – many a face was covered in a net that made my youngest giggle. We laughingly called them creepers as the green nets made the wearers resemble those hissing minecraft meanies.
The rock is only a short walk from the carpark – great for the less active tourist – and was already full of faux-surfers striking the stereotypical ‘hang ten’ position. Of course my ten year old was pretty unwilling to shame himself by following the herd, but being a mum I managed to bully him into it, lol. A short walk up over the rock revealed a flat landscape of varied colours – Balin commented that it looked like an old-fashioned painting. It really did.
We were keen to see some Aboriginal rock art and were stoked to discover that the Mulka Cave was nearby with clearly visible painted hand prints. We weren’t disappointed. The cave is bizarre, a big boulder sliced on one side by a crack large enough for people to walk through. Inside it’s dark and if you look around you can clearly see hand prints all over the walls. It was strange looking at these old signatures of past owners of the land. I was frustrated by the presence of a coach-load of tourists and their arrogant tour-guide. Their presence reminded me that I too am a tourist, a taker, a trespasser. They made me feel guilty.
Heading back through cute little Hyden, I picked up a brochure that explained the story of Mulka Cave – the story of tribal law broken and the consequences. You can read about it here.
The rest of the day just involved heaps of driving. We ended up stopping in another country town, Brookton. Even though this place is barely 150kms west of Perth, this town was old school. The pub was like something out of Croc Dundee – I seriously regretted wearing a short skirt in there. The bar was being held up by three weather, time and experiece-worn men who were happy to share their opinion on things. The fact that I was buying beer for my husband seemed to surprise a couple of them – according to them that’s the man’s job. The third – a tiny old, old man with a small head and dull eyes – took the contrary position. In a heavy European accent he told us that in Holland women paid for everything. Now I don’t know if that’s true, but it sure got a rise out of his drinking colleagues who swiftly told him to ‘Go the fuck back there, then!’ Needless to say, I grabbed my receipt, smiled sweetly and got out of there.
Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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One thought on “Heading north-west: Esperance to Brookton

  1. Pingback: Crossing the Australian continent in a 1974 Kombi camper | Bianca Hewes

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