We were up at dawn after having spent the night on a car park in Margaret River. We decided that it would be nice to have breakfast by the sea, so headed off towards the beach where we had had dinner in the evening.
All along the coast around Margaret river is completely burnt. Apparently, a couple of months ago, the Rangers wanted to do what they call a ‘preventive’ fire (which means setting an area on fire, and of course keeping it under control. Once burn, a wildfire will not start.)
Unfortunately, this fire got out of control. Now about 20km along the coast is completely burnt. Everything is charcoaled. When you see it, it gives you a sort of sad eerie feeling.
Anyway, on the road towards the beach we somehow made a wrong turn somewhere, and ended up on a different beach.
There was a big car park, toilets… everything that we needed. We decided to have breakfast there.
There were already a few cars; mainly surfers come for an early surfing session. We parked the van at the very end of the car park, away from the other vehicles, to have breakfast in peace and quiet.
Hardly a couple of minutes later, a car come and parks right next to our van. The driver, an oldish looking guy with a big bushy grey beard and longish tangled hair, gets out and sits down on his cars bonnet. Dressed in bathing shorts and an old hoodie (and wearing no shorts) he seemed to be watching the surfers out at sea waiting patiently for a wave (a wave that never came, the sea was very calm that morning, strange for this well known surfing area).
All of a sudden we got the horrible feeling that someone was watching us. And someone was. The old guy was staring at us, with insistence. This made us really uncomfortable, plus he did look rather crazy and scary! Orianne who was only wearing a short skirt even decided to go and put some shorts on instead. He really was freaking us out just sitting there on his car staring.
Several very long minutes later, he spoke. He asked where we were from. This was the beginning of a very long (interesting and weird) conversation.
His name was Shawn, was around 40 years old (he looked much older), was a god surfer and had lived several years in the bush (this explained his crazy looks and why he had ‘problems interacting and being sociable with people’).
We chatted about lots of different things. Surfing, nature, pollution, war, religion, Australia… rather serious subjects, but boy did we laugh! Especially when we imitated a Kookaburra (a bird that makes a loud, kind of haunting, laughing noise). Sadly, he had hit one with his car that morning, and was rather upset about it.
He also told us about Gracetown, where we were heading that afternoon. Apparently the place is cursed (I’ll tell you more about that in the next post).
While chatting to Shawn, another van pulled up next to us. Another Australian surfer, also in his 40ies, who had come to do some work on his van.
The old surfer left shortly afterwards, and we started chatting with Dan. He was a really nice guy and really helped us out. He recharged our extra batteries with his generator, screwed the battery plate under the driver seat back on, and had a look to see if he could repair one of our windows that wouldn’t roll back up properly.
After these two fun and nice encounters, it was time for us to leave and meet up with the guys to head off to Gracetown.