After a month and a half at the Cliffs', it is time to say goodbye. We still have a day of harvesting at the Mann Winery, but we want to start visiting the country. And so we did...in a very special way... With two days of freedom, we headed for a 16km hike to Mount Observation and York, East of Perth. Everything should have been a piece of cake ... Nope!
The Eye of the Tiger... or not!
First, and despite all our good will and Matt's excellent sense of orientation, we never found the beginning of the hike. Of course. So, of course, I guided Matt to York for another hike... and, of course, Google Maps guided us through woods and swamps.
Matt, carried away by his enthusiasm and his happiness of being off-road, hoped that our Chocolatine was a competition 4x4... So here he goes driving over big stones, above mini-canyons, in big holes, and in the mud…
Ha? Ha, no? Not in the mud? Well no, not in the mud...
He had thought well to turn back once facing this swamp in front of us... But the vision of the road on the other side, barely 100 meters away made him grow wings. Or stupidity, you choose...
Still, he wanted to pass and he launched the car to assault the swamp... Choco made it 90% of the way... and then got stuck...
"Dou la gadoue la gadoue" (French song by an English singer)
Bogged down... entrenched...she did not want to move anymore.
4 hours. We spent 4 hours digging with our mini-shovel, laying down ridiculous sticks, heating up the engine, getting serious sunburns. 4 hours without eating, without drinking, swarmed by flies and being eaten alive by hordes of mosquitoes hunting in organized packs. Yes, I guarantee it!
4 hours arguing of course. Or rather 4 hours of excuses from Matt and 4 hours of me being pissed!
And inevitably, as if all that was not enough, we had no service... we had to walk, wait on the top of a hill to get a weak signal... only to realize that no one could help us and that there was apparently no house for miles around... well, hey, we're in the mud or we're not!
Tired, having only 3 hours of light left, we decided to walk to the nearest road, 5km away, to try to stop a real 4x4 and ask for help.
A lucky misfortune!
After 2km of walking... (alright, admit it... you are waiting for the next poop to fall on us huh? Perverts!)...By an incredible chance... (don't you need it from time to time?)... a gigantic house appeared.
In this house, a mother and her daughter, Kaye and Laura. They saw us land on their porch like two UFOs, dirty, muddy, sweaty, stinking, looking worried and tired ...
They laughed a lot hearing our story, explaining that it is along their property, that nothing passes through this swamp and they themselves got stuck there before! We waited for the father's return, Bruce, to bring... the tractor!
Tea, coffee, cupcakes, we got offered everything. The kindness of people is sometimes surprising and very welcome! However, we declined all offers politely, we already asked a lot with the car!
To great misfortune, comes great remedies. Bruce had arrived.
After 4 hours of trouble, with just a chain, the tractor released Choco from the muddy pit in... 10 seconds!
The car was filthy (but of course, bogged up to half the wheels) but uninjured! It was such a relief!! Top of the kindness, they invited us to clean Choco at their home. Laura even volunteered herself to clean the car! I had to steal the hose from her hands!
In our misfortune, we were very lucky, and we met extraordinary people.
It's even better in video!
York, city of another time
Once back on track, we headed to the small town of York, which offers travelers / backpackers a free spot for the night with toilets and electricity. It is so rare in Western Australia and even in Australia that we have to point this out and thank the Council for this attention !!
After cleaning ourselves in the disabled toilets, we spent our first night in our rooftop tent! It's a very odd feeling to sleep on top of the car. The first few minutes were tense, listening to the sounds of the car, rocking slightly as we moved and rolled. And then, very quickly, the same sensations that we experience in camping came back, and it was only happiness! The swarms of insects were never able to come in and we were awakened by cockatoos flights. A magical first morning!
Laura working in one of the cafes, Jules Shoppe, we visited her in the morning and ate there, leaving her a tip (a way to thank her). We then visited the small town.
Established in 1831, York is the oldest city built by the settlers in the Outback. 97km from Perth, York saw its first real buildings be erected in 1835 and still has buildings dated between 1840 and 1900 (for us, it's true that it's recent, but for them, it's "ancient" history). From the Museum (1840) to the Anglican Church (1854) through the train station, the hospital, the post office, or some hotels, it was for us the American Wild West in the Australian Wild West! This is the impression left on us by the buildings and this very charming city.
Mount Brown, perfect walk to release our little legs!
FINALLY we are doing this long-awaited walk for which we suffered so much!!
From the car park where we spent the night starts a 7.5km hike to Mount Brown. It is necessary to think to carry water, the air is really dry! Everything begins with the crossing of the river on a small bridge before going along one of the many churches of the city to reach the cemetery.
Not very happy could you say, but this cemetery captivated us. There are buried men, women, entire families of settlers, and some tombs whose date is little eroded and still readable go back to the foundations of York. Small emotion sequence! (Yes, we are easily moved!)
The walk continues in the woods before arriving to a picnic area and then reaching a viewpoint which, despite a crazy wind, offered us a nice panorama on the valley.
It looks like we are not going to do things halfway through this Australian adventure if we continue on this path... and we continued... but that is another story!