We decided to take an organized tour today with Out of Sight Tours who are an eco touring company who specialize in small tours (rather than the big bus many people variety). Actually as it happened on the day we were the only customers so we had the tour all to ourselves.
The tours are run by the self-titled “Dr Dave” who is a really amazing character. An ex-university lecturer he gave up a steady and safe career path over 20 years ago to focus on setting up his own business. Unlike the faux eco-tourism brigade Dave has a real enthusiasm for the environment and the surroundings which adds a strong element of authenticity to the tour. Footnote: Six months after the end of our trip Dave actually sold the company to go travelling around the national parks of Australia!
We decided on their tour of the West Cape Howe which is the southerly most point of Western Australia (next stop is Antarctica). Due to the sandy nature of many of the tracks, much of the park is accessible only to four-wheel drive vehicles which means you either need to be brave or to take an organized tour such as this. And this is real four wheel drive, not getting out of a deep puddle in Tesco’s, no this is letting some pressure out of your tyres, lots of ground clearance PROPER off-roading.
Once you get to the end of the 20 minute drive down the track, is it worth it? Oh my…yes indeed its worth it. There’s something elemental about watching the sea crash against rocks (from multiple angles…including leaning over a rock ledge! Dave is a good host and points out the entire local flora including the seriously poisonous and the edible (isn’t that Australia all over)? The pictures hardly do justice to the spectacle. Its almost impossible to look over the edge without thinking about falling …and there are many ledges to stand, sit or lie on which does nothing to suppress those urges.
The rest of the tour is a little more sedate but no less spectacular with a stop off at Shelly Beach and Comfort Corner, another pair of deserted and impossible pretty beaches which only serve to remind that of the approximately 2 million people in Western Australia around three-quarters live in Perth i.e. there’s just nobody around. Probably one of the world’s last (civilized) wild frontiers.
Having filled most of our day with the tour we took a diversion on the way home and visited the Toffee Factory which is a small local business making err…Toffee plus various other “gourmet” (Australians love that word) sauces and condiments and their own home made cider in various flavours. I wanted to buy some but frankly having had the tasting I just couldn’t…it was awful!
A side note to today’s tour was flies! Apparently November is the peak month for flies in Western Australia. When you are standing out of the wind they are all over the place and irrespective of repellant they will fly in your ears, up your nose or down your neck. Apparently you get used to it.
Today is our last (second) day in Aiyana retreat and tomorrow we move on to Pemberton.