Thursday, February 03, 2005

Datapoints Perth 13.

Subject: City of Perth. Perth log Day 11.

My cynicism has been addressed. I now stand firmly convinced: Perth is a city.

After a whole day of towns and shires of populations averaging below 1000 people, Perth definitely qualifies as the city of Western Australia. It is all about reference points and paradigm shifts.

Calamariforthought and I spent the entire day today on a roadtrip. The destination was Wave Rock. A mere 4 kilometres from Hyden and over 330km from Perth. In 38 degrees Celsius heat over sections of unpaved road. Without the modern twin miracles of car air-conditioning and bottled water, we would never have made it.

[ You can find even more photos on
Calamariforthought's blog. ]

After numerous fuel stops, we stopped for lunch at the town of Corrigin. Population approximately 1850. The lady we spoke to claimed present population of about 2500. Anybody who feels that the pace of life in Perth is too slow can reset their points of reference with a short stay at Corrigin. The biggest event in recent history was to put one dog in each of 1527 utes (Aussie for "utility vehicle") and drive them bumper to bumper around town. The whole basic concept eludes the differently-wired brains of city dwellers like us.

Calamariforthought also had me amused by his lunch order. There we were sitting in a non-airconditioned cafe at the tourist information stop at Corrigin located more than 200km from the nearest coastline, after travelling from Perth which is on the coast. And what does the man order for lunch? Salmon patties.

The flags at the Corrigin town council building were flying at half-mast. When queried, the lady at the grocery store replied rather curtly "Somebody died". Then her tone softened and she quietly added "he was one of us". It was someone she knew and possibly someone she was close to. In a population of around 1850, the death of an established member of the community warrants the town flying the flag at half-mast.

Six parched hours later we arrive at Hyden. Population 400.

No GSM signal. No cable television. Satellite internet connection or dialup modem connections. No FM signals on the radio. Only two AM radio channels found. Where a 2 bedroom house with garage and front porch and a brand new air-conditioner in the lounge room on sale has an asking price of A$36,000. Where having 3 customers in a cafe qualifies as "very busy". Lots of flies. It was at this point after about 6 hours' drive over parched land in 38 degrees Celsius with other cars sighted only occassionally on the road that I experienced the epiphany totally erasing all doubts of Perth qualifying as the city.

The Wave Rock and other associated rock formations were interesting enough. However I am not sure I would want to spend another 12 cumulative hours in a vehicle to view them. Fortunately the experiences and sights and the spectacular sunset over the horizon of open farmlands on the trip more than made up for the mild disappointment over the hype over the geological formations.

[ Entry posted at around 9am on Friday 4th Jan 2005. Post date has been backdated to last night when the Internet cafe closed just before I could post this entry. ]


Blogger Calamity Man said...

hyden sounds perfect.

i intend to go on a recce mission like you are now, at the end of this yr or early next yr. it's nice to have excess to reports on your blog beforehand.

February 04, 2005 11:06 AM  
Blogger C said...

Corrigin also seems like a small town until you go somewhere like Halls Creek or Fitzroy's Crossing.

North of the Perth area through the Pinjarra and the Kimberly, distances become greater and so does the isolation. Nevermind cell phone relays, finding someone near enough on the radio (VHF) to give you a hand if you need one, is a bit of a challenge (this is assuming you can't see/hear anyone around). Finding a cow or 6 suddenly in the middle of the road is normal, when the station land is a million or something acres, and people don't bother with with fences. Things really, really start slowing down.

I love it though, getting away from masses of people, the double brick and tile necessities of urban/suburban living. Your priorities narrow down to fuel, water, tyres, coolant, spare belts/hoses and trying to understand the sheer expanse of space around you without being spun too far out. It makes you reconsider your place/purpose/priorities in the world. I've never felt so out of context in my life. It's such a departure from the regulation of planned urbanity.

And this is just WA on man-made bitumen stretches. I can't wait to see the rest of Australia.

February 05, 2005 8:05 AM  
Blogger sari said...

U made me missed Perth~ I wanna go back =(

February 06, 2005 3:39 AM  

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