Before leaving for Australia, I didn’t really think too much about how long it would take to travel to Gnaraloo. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that the station was over a 1,000km north of Perth and that the journey would be long, but I was always sure that “it would all be fine.” After spending the last year in the Kalahari Desert, I’m used to living remotely and the long journeys that accompany that. This led me to my usual antics of last minute bus booking before going to bed with a 4am alarm to begin my travel at Heathrow airport.
The journey over to Perth, Australia from Heathrow was pretty smooth running, both airplanes arrived on time and I spent both flights watching lots of films and snoozing. After passing through immigration and customs, I met my friend in the arrivals lounge and got the best feeling knowing I was finally in Australia and was on my way to working with turtles in Gnaraloo.
Over the next few days, my friend took me to all the best spots around Perth, and all too soon it was time to start the second leg of the journey up to Carnarvon. On my last day in Perth, I met up with two of the other Scientific Interns, Tess C. and Heather, in the city centre for a bit of sightseeing.
Later that night, the three of us started our journey north on the bus up to Carnarvon. The journey went by a lot faster than we all expected with small patches of sleep along the way and a few movies on a screen at the front of the bus to keep us entertained. The first rays of the sun started peeking over the horizon early in the morning and we were finally able to take in the views as we were driving past. We didn’t get to see much wildlife, other than goats and sheep, but the landscape had changed so dramatically overnight – we were now in “Roo country”. The orange and red sands seemed to stretch out for miles as the bus continued to trundle along the roads. After nearly 13 hours and a lot of scattered sleep, we arrived in Carnarvon with six big bags between the three of us and a smaller rucksack each, all we had to do now was wait for the others to arrive.
We stretched our legs and stowed our bags so we could explore the sights in this little seaside town! After a short walk to the Jetty, we found an old train track and station along the route eventually leading us to a Woolworth’s parking lot and the rest of the team. As we needed to do two trips to get us to Gnaraloo Station, Tess D. volunteered to take all our bags up and sort out the cabins while waiting for the rest of us to join her. While the rest of us were waiting for Skip to drive to there and back, we decided to explore Carnarvon further. We walked past a playground and stopped to use the equipment for a post-lunch stretch. Afterwards, we ventured back down the road, past the train track that we had found previously, and found ourselves at an ice cream shop before getting picked up by Skip and the Turtle Wagon.
Finally, we piled into the car with all our remaining gear and the extra food supplies and started heading towards Gnaraloo. The long road soon turned from tarmac to a dirt road and as we moved further into “Roo country,” we kept an eye out for kangaroos and goats alongside the road, as Heather and I were keen to see our first one. As the sun started descending behind the horizon and the light began to fade, our hopes of seeing the iconic animal began to dim. That was until a giant kangaroo jumped into the road without a care in the world and Skip braked, narrowly avoiding it.
Nearly 24 hours after leaving Perth City Centre, we finally arrived at the Station to a lovely warm meal cooked for us by Tess D.
Written by Megan Soulsby