I woke up in the creepiest hotel that I’ve ever stayed at in Norseman, Western Australia, and couldn’t wait to leave. First, I got breakfast and then drove to the visitor center to ensure there wasn’t anything that I was missing. I mean, I spent the night at a horrible hotel. I might as well get a chance to see something there.
I drove to a lookout point that the woman told me about. There was a gravel walking path that dipped down a bit and around the top of the small mountain. I could see trees for miles while some extremely tall eucalyptus trees blew in the wind. One sign read, “The magnificent tree in the foreground is Eucalyptus dundasii, also known as Dundas Blackbutt. It is only found in the Norseman area but is quite common in the vicinity of the town. In years gone by, it was sought after for firewood, and for shoring up underground mines.”
At least there was something to see in Norseman besides a gross hotel. I drove to Esperance, which is in the south, just off the ocean. As I got closer, more and more trees appeared, and signs of vegetation increased significantly.
I arrived at 2:00 pm and checked-in at the Best Western. I needed a hotel that was a little nicer after a rough night in Norseman. It was one of the only times that I was able to take advantage of the earlier check-in times in Australia. Since most check-outs are at 10:00 am, the check-in time is usually around 2:00 pm. Most of the time, I arrived much later.
I was happy to see a fresh, clean room! It felt like such a luxury stay. It was cold, so I turned on the wall heater, but it wasn’t getting warm. I called the front desk, and they sent the repairman to my room.
The repairman was from New Zealand, appeared to be in his 60s, had short gray hair, and wore glasses. He has been in Australia since 2006, and his kids live in the Gold Coast. Somehow, we talked about the poisonous snakes and spiders in Australia when the man told me about the deadly blue-ringed octopus. He said, “They’re very small and the world’s most deadly. Don’t pick up a can or a rock on the beach because an octopus might be hiding under it.” Great – I’ll add that to my list of things that can kill you in Australia.
I told the man about my drive across the Nullarbor. He told me that people die driving across because they leave their car. “It’s not the food and water you have to worry about. It’s about the stuff on the ground,” he said. Once a day, a small airplane flies up and down the road, looking for abandoned cars. It’s best to stay with your vehicle because it’s easier to spot. People kept telling me that I should have two to three days’ worth of food and water when traveling in the outback.
The man tried to get the heater to work and said, “It’s a nice day outside. Where are you from?” I responded, “Los Angeles.” The man understood, “Ah, I see.” It felt cold to me because I’m not used to much cold in Los Angeles.
Because I was from the U.S., the man talked to me about our football. He thinks the players are paid too much. When he was in Canada, he attended a hockey game against the U.S. The man was disappointed that his seats were so far away, he had to watch the big T.V. screen instead. The sport that is the most popular in Esperance is car racing. The man said they hold it every October, and the streets along the coast are turned into a race track. It’s their largest event of the year, and I pictured it being similar to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix.
The heater wouldn’t work, so I had to switch rooms. Finally, at 4:00 pm, I walked around the esplanade and the beach, across the street from my hotel. It was beautiful! I walked out onto a small pier with rocks on both sides. The trees against the ocean reminded me of Adelaide. It was extremely windy, so I was worried that I’d get blown away.
I walked over to a small museum that closed at 4:30 pm. It was 4:15 pm, and the doors wouldn’t open. As I walked away, a man came running out of a truck asking, “Are you after someone?” I responded, “No. I was just checking out the museum.” The embarrassed man said, “Oh. I closed up because nobody was there. We’ll open again tomorrow at 1:30 pm.” Oh, Australia, and their early closings and late openings.
I walked along Main Street, but most of the shops were closed. I bought an apple turnover at a bakery and eventually ended up at a restaurant that looked tasty. It was almost 5:00 pm, and I hadn’t heard from Collise and Greg, who I had met the night before. I ordered fish tacos and sat at a table. I rechecked my email and Collise had just sent an email asking if I wanted to grab dinner with them. Shoot. I explained where I was, and just as I finished, they showed up! We walked down the street to a hotel restaurant where they ordered food, and I ordered a beer.
Collise and Greg asked how my night was, and they conveyed their concerns for my safety. I told them I survived ok, but I almost put the dresser in front of the door when I went to bed. Collise reiterated that she wanted to take me in to keep me safe. She continued to crack me up with her hilarious impressions of people. She dramatically kept saying that the people in that bar had a third eye. The look of disgust made me laugh every time. I told her that I drove to a beautiful lookout point in the morning, and she quickly said, “We got out of there as quickly as we could. We didn’t even stop at the visitor center!”
We talked about our future travels since we were all headed up north. Collise pointed out that for all we knew, the rest of Western Australia was just like Norseman. I assured them it wouldn’t be (at least I hoped it wouldn’t). This trip was their first time visiting Western Australia. They said that I could come to visit them in Corowa and would have a place to stay. Collise warned me that it could get frigid there.
Collise still couldn’t get over the fact that I actually stayed at that hotel. I explained that it was the creepiest place that I’ve stayed in over a year of travels. Then I told them how I worried that I might be lured and murdered at a museum junkyard at the start of the Nullarbor. After telling the story of the old man, Greg said, “The poor guy was probably just trying to be nice.” Before I feel too bad, Collise jumped in, “But you never know!” I laughed and explained that the man was probably being nice, but I’ve seen too many horror movies, which have made me freak out.
Collise and Greg stayed in their campervan and told me about all the amenities they had. They put in a regular mattress and brought their bedding from home, so it was very comfortable. It also had a bathroom with a toilet, so they had all they needed.
It was time to say our goodbyes, and we hugged. We stayed in touch, hoping to meet up in another city. They ended up being ahead of me and messaged me with really helpful tips. A month later, we met up for a drink in Broome. We’re still in touch today, and I’m thrilled they have been part of my journey.
The next morning, I drove to Thistle Cove and Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park. It was unlike anything I had seen before! There were small parking lots to get out and take pictures or walk down to the beach. I had the park almost to myself.
There were trees, hills, and the most pristine beaches I’ve ever laid eyes on. The turquoise colors looked fake as the dark clouds loomed over the ocean, creating the perfect lighting.
I walked to a couple of beaches. It was too cold to get in the water (low 50’s °F, 10 °C) and the wind was extremely powerful. The sand was pure white like it had never been touched before. I walked on it and realized it was compact, almost like clay. One beach had kangaroos hopping around. A couple of them let me get very close.
One lookout point required a bit of walking on a huge boulder. From that vantage point, I could see the green-blue water turn clear against the sand.
As I ventured inland, the walking paths showed off boulders and small mountains with vegetation. I could not believe this place existed and that I had never heard of it. I was bummed that I couldn’t spend more time there, but I needed to get to my next housesit.
On the other side of Esperance, I drove the Great Ocean Drive (not be confused with the Great Ocean Road near Melbourne). It’s 40 kilometers (25 miles). Once I passed the Pink Lake that is no longer pink, I came to the section that follows the ocean on top of cliffs.
I was in disbelief – it was even more spectacular than the Great Ocean Road! Raging water crashed on the rocks below. Dark storm clouds made the ocean look furious. I made several stops to take pictures at lookout points and was usually the only person there. Some spots had long, steep staircases leading to the small beach below. I wondered just how far Antarctica was from there because the storm seemed to grab its power from there.
At one lookout point, I just barely missed getting rained on. I continued driving while it sprinkled. I knew the storm was coming, but I couldn’t help myself, and I continued to go to lookout points. At the last one, I was a distance from my car when a sudden downpour dumped on me. I ran back to my car but got drenched in that short time. The views were worth it.
I filled my gas tank up in Esperance once I finished the drive. I was heading towards Ravensthorpe, which seemed like a good stopping point for the night. The sun shined, even though it was raining. It was hard to see the road at times because of the combination. Farms and farmhouses were illuminated in the setting sun.
When I arrived in Ravensthorpe, it was dark outside. I saw a motel at the beginning of town, but it didn’t look very nice. I drove into the small town and saw a hotel above a pub on the main street. Through the windows, I could see about 30 construction workers in the restaurant/pub below the hotel. It reminded me of the hotel that I stayed at in Norseman, so I kept on driving.
I didn’t have cell service, so I couldn’t hop on Orbitz and TripAdvisor as I would typically do when I get to a town. I drove to an R.V. park and asked if they had a room available, but they were all sold out. The woman told me that she just sent someone else away and recommended the motel down the street. She pointed out that they were charging $99 a night, while she charged less for more beautiful rooms. I asked if there were any other options in town, and she said it was the motel down the street or the pub-hotel.
I asked the woman which hotel was nicer because the motel that I had seen on the way into town was isolated and old. She said, “The pub is older.” Then she made a face. The woman explained that most of the rooms are reserved for construction workers, so they might not have space.
I drove to the dark, isolated motel. I got out of my car, and a man walking out of a room said hello. I asked if he worked there and he said yes and then followed it up with, “Now that’s a funny accent.” He was from Vancouver, Canada, and said, “Eh?” with enthusiasm. The man appeared to be in his late 50s, had long gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, and wore wire-framed glasses. He looked like a hippy.
I wasn’t sure about the room, so the man got the key to show it to me. It was dark outside, and I refused to let myself be afraid again. He opened the door and showed me around the room. While standing in the central part of the room, he asked, “So are you doing this for self-discovery? Oh!! A discovery quest!”
I explained to the man that I sold my house in Los Angeles so that I can travel full time. He bluntly asked me, “How much did you get for your house? Should I be proposing to you?”
I didn’t answer his questions and instead asked him why he came to Australia. He responded, “I came here for a girl. Why else do you come here other than a girl or money?”
We walked back to the office so that I could pay the $99 for the room. A cat walked around the desk as the man shuffled through the paperwork. I told him that I had been to Uluru (Ayers Rock), and he excitedly said, “Do you know about crystals and readings?!” I said that I didn’t, which disappointed him.
There weren’t many places to grab dinner, so I ended up at the pub. I avoided eye-contact with the 30 men in construction uniforms and walked towards the three young girls working behind the bar. I ordered food and sat in a side room where five tables were. I ate quietly in my corner.
Back at the motel, I still didn’t have any cell service, and the Wifi was so weak that it was almost unusable. Suddenly, it just stopped working at all. I saw an email about documents that I needed to sign electronically for a house that I was buying in the U.S., but I couldn’t open any of the attachments, much less sign each page. I went to bed and figured that I’d just deal with it sometime the next day. I didn’t know the deadline for the signatures because nobody could get a hold of me. It’s hard having a digital life without cell service or Wifi.
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