2008: Pemberton? And Beyond?

It was a coin toss, effectively. I chose just as randomly, as throughout the tour – some good ones, some bad ones, some very bad ones. My days of building spreadsheets with weighted pros and cons had disappeared in 2001 with the advent of the Landmark Forum into my life. The power of choosing without reason, of being unreasonable, was then mine.

Pemberton it was. The Important Bird Area of Sandy Island and its fairy terns would have to await my next visit, not that I knew it existed back in 2008. Instead my Lonely Planet recommended the Gloucester Motel, which promised a lively restaurant. Ahem! It was good but it wasn’t lively, in keeping with the rest of town. In fact I managed to walk right across to the other side of Pemberton without registering a centre to it at all.

This put me by the sawmill and the Club, although Club of what I couldn’t tell. A cricket pitch did adjoin it but no matter: it welcomed non-members and served booze. It could have been a rifle-hunting club for all I cared. I just had to sign in.

And have a beer. Just the one. It was depressing. A great cavernous space, with enough people in it but nowhere near enough to create an atmosphere. Vibes of desperation snaked through the vacuum, like tendrils of smoke. My imagination, I daresay, but I don’t often stop the evening at a single pint once I’ve started.

Splendid Fairy-wren

So I was bright-eyed enough to pick up black-faced cuckoo-shrike and then my 887th lifer before breakfast the next morning. My room’s large sliding windows gave on to an extensive karri-bordered lawn. That helped too. And the lifer was?

Splendid fairy-wren, finally. And don’t Australian birds have such splendid names? Superb this, noisy that, laughing, whistling, elegant, regent. Someone had fun with that lot. But the next eighty miles to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin couldn’t even muster a common whatever until a couple of grey butcherbirds on the road to the lighthouse.

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